Along with the increasing popularity of the 3D format, a European production company called Electric Sky Productions arrived to Panama with a very talented crew in this field. I had a chance to be at one of the production days in the jungle with them near Gamboa. We first arrived to the location in a caravan of 3 pickup trucks fully loaded with their equipment. It was an 11 crew member team. Each of them experts in their field.
After they have unloaded and started to put together their equipment, I discovered that they have planned to film in the same location with four different type of cameras, and I say four different types because each 3D camera had a set of 2 cameras to perform the stereographic film.
First in the scene was the Panasonic AG3D-A1, this camera I have only seen in pictures in recent magazines. It resembles the traditional P2 camera with a twin lens.
Unlike some setups I have seen in other local Panamanian productions who use 2 RED cameras in a rig, and think they have the best of the best, The Panasonic AG3D-A1 is factory made to film 3D, therefore their lens are closer and are able to capture closer objects and reproduce the Wow sensation when you feel that things are coming right at you. In my humble opinion, they could have shot the whole movie with this single camera, and end up with a professional motion picture. But no, then they brought to the scene the Sony HD EX 3D setup, also factory built like that. This one has one camera pointing straight and the other one at 45 degree angle with a mirror to get both pointing a the same area. This camera, my friends is the most sophisticated 3D camera that has been used in Panama until now.
When I thought I have seen it all, another 2 crew members came up to the scene with a “Skybot”. Now this 3D camera setup was the most amazing of all. It resembled the flying robot from terminator.
It is RC Controlled by 2 operators. One for the tricopter itself and the other one for the camera tilting. The radio control for the camera operator included a wireless monitor to see what the Skybot was looking.
They were able to get the most amazing shots of the jungle and its layers of vegetation. If you would appear to the scene without knowing what was going on, you would easily think that there was a small UFO hovering the jungle. This piece of equipment you cannot find in a toy store or in any store. It is completely custom built, and resembled more an android than camera.
Our 4th camera setup was a carbon fiber jib along with an electronic joystick controller for the 3D camera attached, and of course the monitor to see where you are pointing. All the dual video information was captured to a digital recorder. All these 3D camera setups were the latest in technology in all ways. And more talented were their owners behind the camera. For all this I congratulate the Smithsonian Institute for hiring such experts to produce their documentary on nature.